The Black Madonna of Czestochowa is an icon which is both the national symbol of Poland and its most venerated relic. Dating the piece is difficult due to the technique which was used to repair it following its vandalism by a group of Hussite raiders in 1430. Legend links the icon to Saint Luke who is said to have painted it on a tabletop which belonged to the Holy Family. Another legend, connected to the raid of 1430, explains the two slashes across the cheek of the Virgin Mary. In this tradition, after raiding the Pauline monastery which contained it in 1430, a Hussite slashed the icon with a sword and the cheek began to bleed. This icon is credited with several miraculous events, including the preservation of the monastery and holy icon itself during a fire. However, the smoke from the flames of that fire permanently darkened the pigments in the painting.
[left] Black Madonna of Częstochowa. artist and date unknown. The Jasna Góra Monastery, Częstochowa, Poland.